[ by Charles Cameron — terminology of war ]
I have a question:
Do we have or need a term for the kind of situation where one nation, while ostensibly at peace with another, fights them by means that are plausibly deniable –- I’m thinking a campaign of sabotage, computer viruses, assassinations -– whose leaders when asked if they would care to deny them, smile like so many Cheshire Cats?
This certainly seems to be one mode of the continuation of politics by other means — and once war is declared, it would fold itself into war itself as covert and info ops — but I was wondering: is there a name for this, or do we perhaps need a name for it, in “peacetime”, as one of the forms of warfare?
I pinged Mark on this, since he’d know better than I, and he replied:
There is no legal term for such a state.
Individually, these actions either constitute “violations of sovereignty” or “criminal acts” depending on how the state chooses to interpret them, until they consider them “an act of war” (i.e. mining harbors, sabotage, assassination) and act diplomatically. Until then it is a state of “peace” under International Law.
Which leaves me wondering: is it about time we had a name for this kind of war, which the United States and / or Israel may plausibly – and deniably – be waging at against Iran as we speak?
Would it be useful to have a term for, and a legal doctrine about, campaigns of this sort?